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125 058 

The Wisdom of the East 


The Poetry 
of Living Japan 



Professor of English Literature at Kobe University 


Lately Professor of English Literature 
at Konan University 


First published in 1957 in 


Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 58-12186 

The Poetry of Living Japan is published in three editions: 

An Evergreen Book (E-12O) 
A cloth bound edition 

A specially bound limited edition 
of 1 OO numbered copies 

Grove Press Books and Evergreen Books 

are published by Barney Rosset at Grove Press Inc. 

795 Broadway Nciv York 3, AT. Y. 



Introduction i 


Otsuta In the Birdless Country Crafty Fox First Love A 


The Moon on the Ruined Castle Fair Japan 


Were I in the Province of Yamato In the Heat of the Day Home 


When the Wise Physiognomist Looked at Me The Oyster Shell 


The Precious Music of Heresy Okant and Kampci Spinning- 


Native Place After the Kiss Bell Across the Snow Song of 
Departing May 


Sherry Ryogoku This Side and That Side 


My Poetry Taciturn Sea Captain The Rain-beaten Cathedral 


Solo The Curve In the Blue Sky An Old Pond 



Late Autumn Night Train A Leisurely Indulgence Woman! 
Tortoise A Sick Face below the Surface of the Earth 


Lonely Spring Susaki Waterfront 


Song of the Samma To a Person A Wish 


Sapporo City Orchard Fantasia Under the Clear Sky Silent 


The Raven The Fine Rain 


Locomotive Tokyo Imperial University Students 


Winter Nature-Hater 


Birthday AgainThe Warship 'Man" The Gulf of Tartary and 
a Butterfly 


The Rush Hour Festivals Faces in the Procession 


Japan for Sightseeing At the Close of Day Memory of a Witch 


Gay Summertime The Story of a Dream 


Snow Nostalgia Sea-gulls The Deer 



Rain Let the Traveller Pause 


Qucroque the Frog: An Autobiography Conversation on an Autumn 
Night The Frog 


High Summer 


Will-o*-the- Wisp Dante's Scourge 


Distant View of School A Gyroscopic Lamp 


Mosquito Met Stone Staircase Overlooking the Sea 


Evening Sea Picture Drawn by a Boy 


Chance Encounter Wilderness 



Notes 95 

Biographical Notes 99 


AT last the age of the new poetry arrived. 

It was like a beautiful dawn. Some cried out as the prophets of old,, 
others gave voice like the poets of the West. All seemed intoxicated with, 
light, with new tongues, with new imaginings . . . 

Our new poets were mostly simple-hearted sincere youths. Their art 
was immature, incomplete. On the other hand, they were neither vain 
nor pompous . . . Just think how novel speculations served many a 
young man instead of food and sleep. And think, too, how die sorrows 
and anguish of the modern world sent many a one out of his mind. I 
put aside my scruples, I joined in the chorus of these new throats . . . 


Introduction to Poems (one-volume edition, 1904) 

WITH Toson Shimazaki' s first volume, Seedlings (1887), Japanese 
poetry was definitely launched upon a new career. Not that 
Shimazaki revolutionized either style his language was ex- 
clusively pseudo-classical, in metre he followed the traditional 
alternation of five and seven syllables or themes, for he still 
wrote of Nature, love and melancholy. What was markedly 
new was the feeling of excitement: here was a receptive soul, 
confronted suddenly with a fresh and vast view of poetry's 
potentialities. That, for instance, his 'Song of the Autumn 
Wind' was all too Shelleyan does not matter. What was impor- 
tant for the future was the very real imaginative liberation which 
Shimazaki experienced. 

The Meiji era (1868-1912) was an age of marvels. Houses in 
Western style began to replace the thatched earthen-tiled ones; 
oil-lamps and gaslight appeared; restaurants ('resutoranto') 
proudly served Western food milk, meat, bread and wine. The 


pass-word was 'Civilization and Enlightenment'. And the new 
age indeed required a new voice. 

In 1882 the trail was blazed by a small collection calling itself 
New Style Poems and edited by three professors of Tokyo 
University (a philosopher, a botanist and a sociologist). The book 
contained translations of poems by Gray, Bloomfield, Campbell, 
Tennyson, Longfellow and others. Not, one would say, very 
strong meat for revolutionaries. But the title is accounted for (and 
justified) by the fact that in contemporary usage Poetry meant 
exclusively verse written in the Chinese style and Song applied 
only to the traditional Japanese tonka of thirty-one syllables. *We 
regret that hitherto it was not our custom to write poetry in 
words of daily use/ wrote one of the editors. 'We have herewith 
introduced, after the manner of western poetry, verse of a new 
style*. While another remarked on the crippling shortness of the 
conventional forms: 'Facility in expression must mean shallow- 
ness of thought . . . How can a more consecutive thought be 
given vent in such short forms?' We quote this remark because 
Western readers tend to assume that the Japanese must find 
Western-style' free verse easier than their own tight traditional 
forms. Such is not the case. The seventeen syllable haiku is proba- 
bly the easiest verse-form m existence; while, on the other hand, 
Japanese poets soon found to their cost that, as T. S. Eliot said, 
'no v ers is libre for the man who wants to do a good job*. 

The propositions advanced in New Style Poems were soon 
seized upon. One monument to them is a narrative poem in 679 
lines on a Biblical legend. However, the other Western influences 
relating not to size but to form, language and subject-matter 
have been much more significant. And the reaction against 
facility and shallowness was strengthened by further books of 
translations, such as Ogai Mori's Semblances (1889), which in- 
cluded Goethe, Heine, Hoffmann, Byron and Shakespeare. 


This was how matters stood when Shimazaki made his debut. 
His appeal was immediate and widespread, though he en- 
countered opposition from the nationalist camp who found his 
work lacking in the masculinity which they attributed to the 
more dignified Chinese-style poetry. From that point of view, 
Bansui Tsuchii was a more pleasing writer: though his themes 
were often exotic, he invariably preserved the 5/7 syllabic 
rhythm (even translating Homer thus) and favoured Chinese 
phraseology. In retrospect his seems the first (and perhaps the 
last) voice of the samurai class in modern poetry. The 'feminine', 
which Shimazaki and his followers were supposed to stand for, 
was of more enduring value, for it was more flexible, more ready 
to go forward into a changing world. 

A third book of translations must not be omitted here, for it 
was certainly the most important to date. A young man, Bin 
Ueda, was solely responsible for The Sound of the Tide (1905), 
containing 'fifty-seven poems by twenty-nine poets three 
Italians, four Englishmen, seven Germans, one Provencal and as 
many as fourteen Frenchmen, of whom the kte Parnassians and 
the present Symbolists form the greater part'. The author also 
said in his preface, It is as if, where the ancient well-trodden path 
comes to an end, an open uncharted field of briars lies before us. 
But those who would disparage a courageous pioneer are either 
cowards or sluggards . . . Beware I The constellations in the 
heaven of Poetry have shifted position!' The volume offered 
little in the way of metrical innovation, but the translator's hand- 
ling of the language his modification of literary-Japanese 
deeply affected the major contemporary practitioners. 1 'The 
translations of Bin Ueda offered good nourishment, a mixture of 
high-minded Parnassians with the nearer Symbolists, old Hugo 
along with new Samain,' a later critic comments. 'Bin's was an 
i Sec Japanese Litctaturc, by Donald Kecne (Grove Press Inc.), p. 18 


influence greater than any mere study of poetic history because 
the impact was immediately upon the sensibility/ We may smile 
at the collocation of Hugo and Samain, but such odd accidents 
are common in intercultural relations. 

Of the four most prominent poets of this time, Kyukin 
Susukida is often called (somewhat uninformarively, we may 
think) the Romantic-Parnassian in contrast to Ariake Kambara, 
the Romantic-Symbolist. (The Japanese, it should be mentioned, 
are very fond of such resonant categories.) And in fact there is not 
much oftheparnassien about Susukida, whereas his romanticism 
is seen in his yearning for things remote in time. In the European 
sense, it is equally doubtful whether Kambara could be described 
as a symbolist. Both poets were accused of 'obscurity', both at- 
tempted to please with a plainer sort of verse, and both ceased 
to write at an early age. In their stead appeared another pair of 
'symbolists', Hakushu Kitahara and Rofu Miki. The essence of 
Kitahara's poetry was described by a contemporary as 'kineorama* 
(a compound of 'kinema' and 'panorama'). His first volume, 
Heresy, had as epigraph a parody of Dante: 

Through me to the languors ofmelodia, 
Through me to the garden of sensuous pleasures, 
Through me to die bitter stupor of the nerves. 

His concern was with the intensely sensuous (his favourite 
colours are red, black and gold); what he listened for in 'Heresy' 
was its secret, precious music; what he sought out was the 
mysteries that came from 'the wonderlands' of the West. With 
this volume and his later Recollections (less colourful but perhaps 
healthier) he made himself the most widely read of all the 
modern poets. By contrast, Rofu Miki looks rather thin. He 
expelled melodia in favour of straightforward visualism; what he 


would restore, in place of the 'wonderlands' and Baudelaire's 
diabolism, was the 'elegant* and the 'wholesome': 

Among the rampant weeds 
The elegant is smothered; 
In this pale blue light 
The wholesome cannot stay. 

The following era, Taish5 (1912-1926), saw the first world war 
and Japan's rise to the status of a world power. Modern poetry- 
had by now established itself, so that Shimazaki would no longer 
have felt that 'the name of a "New-Style Poet" was like a crown 
of thorns upon our heads. It meant damnable ridicule, unbearable 
contempt . . .' Looking back, we are struck by the fact that, 
although the TaishS poets may be less than great, they are con- 
spicuously individual in character. 

It was Mokutaro Kinoshita who led off the period: musician, 
painter, Kabuki playwright, doctor and connoisseur of wine, 
he was a born dilettante. He formed the 'Pan Society', which 
met in a tavern kept by a fellow aesthete. Sipping at a tumbler or 
liqueur glass exotic beverages! he gazed through the window 
at the turbid canal, a relic of Yedo culture. Never losing himself 
in drink or in poetry, he was a very conscious artist. Kotaro 
Takamura, on the other hand, was sober by nature, almost a 
puritan, and he was one of the few Japanese poets who could 
really think in poetry. Probably his most considerable contribu- 
tion was his establishment of colloquial free verse, a style already 
experimented with, as a working poetic mode. It is often said 
that his success in this mode was helped by his unfamiliarity with 
the Japanese tradition and his four years' sojourn abroad, but the 
fact remains that it came naturally to his straightforward un- 
sophisticated temperament. (Verhaeren, whom he translated, 
was his favourite poet.) His poem included here, 'My Poetry', is 


a good corrective to the view that Japanese 'Western-style' poets 
must necessarily forfeit their national distinctiveness. 

Bocho Yamamura turned from theology to become a violent 
experimentalist, but his divertissements and his 'gibberish' are more 
substantial than the organized antics of the surrealists whom he 
anticipated. Sakutaro Hagiwara's sensitiveness sometimes amounts 
to morbidity we are aware of exposed nerves but there could 
be no doubt about the lively originality of his first volume, 
Baying at the Moon (1917), and his fresh handling of the colloquial 
style. 'All new poetic styles since have issued from this book', he 
later claimed with some justification. Actually his own 'collo- 
quialism' represented a reaction against the prolixity and sloppi- 
ness which marred much current usage of the style, for it is taut 
and condensed and in some points partakes of a return to the old 
literary style. Saisei Muro is very different: 'a sentimentalist, as 
pure-hearted as a young chestnut leaf with silvery down*, as his 
friend Kitahara put it. His style is a curiously clumsy one as it 
were, a literary style rebuilt on the basis of the new colloquial 
one but it fitted the tearful sorrows of an adolescent mind 
which were its theme, and the resulting 'new melodies* had a 
tremendous success. Yet another personality of the age was 
Haruo Sato (who later married the first wife of the novelist 
Junichiro Tanizaki: the affair is referred to in two poems printed 
here). He is generally held to offer a return to the lyricism of 
Shimazaki, for he resorted almost exclusively to the literary style 
in his more important poems, yet this old-fashioned element is 
always accompanied by a rather incongruous modernism in the 
pky of intellect. 

In addition to the above poets, sometimes lumped together as 
the 'Art School*, we must mention briefly the 'People's Poets', 
men of good will and humanitarian ideals, who were however 
guilty of superficiality in both their thinking and their deploy- 


ment of colloquial free verse. But one important outsider is 
Kenji Miyazawa, a devout Buddhist and a chemistry teacher in 
a northern district. Religion, Nature and Science were the triple 
basis of his poetry, and his 'Mental Sketches' (as he would have 
his poems called) are as crisp as the icy northern air. 

To close tills survey of the Taisho period we should mention 
the 'J a P an Futurist Movement' with its special syntactical and 
typographical arrangements or derangements. Expressionism, 
Cubism, Fauvism, etc., followed and each had (often in combina- 
tion) its followers. Perhaps the only writer to survive this vortex 
was the dadaist, Shinkichi Takahashi, whose work has a desperate 
sincerity about it. 

The Showa era, the Age of Universal Peace, coincided with 
universal war. Between the wars democratic ideas had made some 
progress before being crushed out of shape between the upper 
millstone of militarism and the nether of class-warfare. Not sur- 
prisingly, the majority of literary intellectuals favoured the 
workers' cause; and the poetry of the period is most conveniently 
considered under the two headings, the Social School and the 
Art School. 

The Social poets stem from 1903 when Kagai Kodama pub- 
lished his (immediately banned) Socialist Poems, 'marching songs 
against the world of great evil and the disease of gold*. Takuboku 
Ishikawa, famous as an innovator in the old tanka form, started 
as a Romantic and ended as a socialist, writing what he called 
'Edible Poems'. And the socialist poets achieved both a wide 
public and a majority in the Poetry Conference (1917-1926), 
an attempted amalgamation of Japanese poets out of whose pro- 
tracted collapse grew a diversity of schools and movements 
which this introduction cannot enumerate. We should however 
cite the dadaist-anarchist Red and Black group, with its slogan 


'Poetry is a bomb', and the Marxist magazine Battle Flag (1928). 
The only figure who really established himself in this noisy 
and confused period was Shigeharu Nakano, whose syncopation 
of lyrical and prose rhythms well suited his rigorous and dryly 
satirical mind. 

The first poets to enter the stage after Japan's defeat were those 
who had refused to collaborate with the regime and had been 
imprisoned or rendered silent. Nakano's poems were republished, 
unexpurgated. Tosaburo Ono, previously an anarchist, worked 
on his poetics 'the negation of the lyrical* as exemplified in his 
volume Osaka. Of post-war socialist poets in general, it can be 
said that, in spite of their undiminished preference for society 
rather than the individual, they are less fanatical in declaiming 
against their opponents and more liberal in their views on poetry. 
Their chief hope now seems to lie in the 'Circle' poets, recruited 
from among factory hands and school-teachers: more than two 
hundred 'Circle' poetry magazines are now being published. 

So much for the Social School. In dealing with what we have 
called (rather crudely) the Art School, mention must be made of 
an influential collection of translations, A Group in the Moonlight* 
by Daigaku Horiguchi (1925). Nearly seventy poets were repre- 
sented, all French and all recent, most notably Apollinaire, Jacob, 
Jammes and Cocteau; and the poet Tatsuji Miyoshi has since 
remarked, 'It was a wonder, a delight. It was as if one had 
suddenly been shown into a gallery crowded with pictures of 
les esprits nouveaux.' Another equally decisive event was the 
magazine Poetry and Poetics which appeared in fourteen quarterly 
volumes of over two hundred pages each between 1928 and 193 1. 
Here was introduced the latest work of Western writers; as the 
editor, Yukio Haruyama, later reflected, *Val6ry and Cocteau 
and Jacob and Morand, Soupault and Aragon and Breton and 
Eluard and Radiguet, Eliot and Joyce and Pound and Huxley 


and Lawrence all flowed at once into our world; it was a 
wonder, a thrill, almost breath-taking! We were saturated with 
the whole atmosphere of the age/ No wonder that a good deal of 
indigestion resulted yet how else could Japanese poets nourish 
their art? 

From these two influences emerged three schools: the Lyrical, 
the Realist and the Intellectual. Junzaburo Nishiwaki is con- 
sidered the leader of the Intellectuals, and his attraction lies in the 
combination of difficult thought ('ambiguity') with crystal-clear 
imagery ('Morning up-turned like jewels'). The Intellectual 
group were particularly interested in poetic theory; and the 
magazine New Domain (shades oNew Country) translated essays 
and poems by Spender, Day Lewis, Michael Roberts, Herbert 
Read, Auden, MacNeice and others. 

The Realists were presided over by Shimpci Kusano a 
Japanese fauve, as he is called, though his favourite beast is the frog 
('the hundredth class' is how he describes this animal, in reference 
to the 'fourth class* or proletariat). The chief common principle 
of the Realists was their rqection of the Intellectuals' excessive 
theorizing. And by far the most significant of the three groups 
under discussion was the Lyrical, whose organ, Four Seasons, 
printed eighty-one issues between 1934 and 1944. Among the 
members were several of the poets included in this anthology: 
Kaoru Maruyama, Tatsuji Miyoshi, Katsumi Tanaka, Michizo 
Tachihara, Shizuo Ito and Fuyuji Tanaka. They campaigned 
equally against the preoccupation with theoretics of the Intellec- 
tuals and the crudeness and superficiality of the proletarian 
writers; and, while profiting from modern developments, they 
sought to stabilize poetry by a judicious reference back to native 
traditions as it were, a reconciliation of the wisdom of the 
West with that of the East. 

The post-war years are too near to be seen in any proper 



perspective, though one is still aware of the large overall division 
between those who place the stress on 'Art* and those who place 
it on 'Life'. But poets are now having to take a wider, less 
exclusive view of these two conceptions. After three-quarters of 
a century of dispute and struggle, they have learnt that poets are 
not only born but are also made; that neither the old artlessness 
nor the new artfulness will do any longer. 

Little magazines (sometimes not so little) have always been a 
prominent feature of the modem poetic scene, for Japanese 
writers are much keener than their Western colleagues on group- 
ings, alignments and manifestos. Since the war the leading 
magazines have been revived, among them Kusano's History in 
the Making (the old Realist organ), the veterans' platform Gala, 
which has printed Nishiwaki, Shir5 Murano and Ichiro Ando, 
and the imperishable VOU. The latter, to be read as 'Vow', was 
founded by Katsue Kitasono in 1935 and maintained ties with 
Ezra Pound and others. Conspicuous among the new groups is 
The Waste Land: this magazine, started in 1939, was resuscitated 
in 1947 and now appears as a yearly anthology under the title 
Waste Land Selections it cannot be said that Japanese poets seek 
to conceal their indebtedness. Its present influence is considerable: 
whether salutary or otherwise remains for the future to decide. 

The production and dissemination of poetry is such today that 
no less than three hundred magazines (in addition to the two 
hundred 'Circle' magazines) are in circulation. Add to this the 
fact that the traditional forms, tanka and haiku, not only have 
survived but are more popular than ever, and one must agree 
with the old saying, that Japan is 'the land blessed with the 
Genius of Speech', doubtful though that blessing sometimes is. 
The one current magazine which stands for catholicity is Poetic 
Studies (Shigaku). Besides publishing established writers, Poetic 
Studies brings out special issues of Review of Local Poetry Magazines, 


Beginners in Poetry and a Year Book. It is a matter for congratu- 
lation that at least one major magazine, standing outside the 
groups and movements, should be watching for new and perhaps 
solitary talents. 

Our aim in the anthology which follows has been to illustrate 
the course of modern poetry in Japan by translating work that is, 
firstly, good in its own right and, secondly, amenable to trans- 
lation. Merely experimental or merely imitative work, whatever 
its historical interest, we have thought best not to inflict upon the 
reader at this time. Both the selection of poems and the introduc- 
tion have been affected by considerations of space, and we are 
aware that there are omissions from both. In assuring that repre- 
sentation was as proper as possible, and in the composition of the 
introduction, we are greatly indebted to a group of scholars and 
poets connected with the magazine Kropes, published in Kobe: 
among them in particular, Masami Ogawa, Yasuo Ochi and 
Toshikazu Yasumizu. Also, for advice on particular points of 
interpretation, to the staff of the Japanese Literature Department 
of Kobe University. We are grateful to the poets and copyright- 
holders for permission to print these translations and to Professor 
Mikio Hiramatsu for help in obtaining this permission. 


It should be mentioned here that the heavier part of our joint 
labours fell on Mr Ninomiya, who was responsible for literal 
drafts and elucidation. No theory of translation underlies our 
work. We were merely concerned to find a working com- 
promise between what the poet was saying in Japanese and what 
could decently be said in English. Over a period of time we 
moved through decreasingly literal drafts to what, but for the 
congratulatory sound of the word, might be termed 're-creations'. 


By way of compensating for the loss of the musical qualities so 
potent in Japanese verse, we have not hesitated to bring out more 
clearly a meaning or to sharpen an occasional image. In every 
case, however, the final version was checked against the first 
literal draft as a form of control. Lastly, in rendering Japanese 
names we have followed the "Western practice of placing the 
given name before the surname. 


The letter n in the text 
refers to Notes on pp. 95-97. 



I CREPT into being as faintly 
As blossoms glowing in a night of spring. 
Dim in my memory, a pair of shadows, 
My father and mother faded away. 
And so I was left, an orphan, a shadow 
Of shadows, alone and helpless 
But for a youthful priest, who took 
Me in. And now I am a maiden, 
With my hair put up, and my heart 
Stuffed full of vague longings. 

The young priest said: 

If you desire to taste it at its best 

Do not pick the persimmon fruit too early . . . 

I was so glad to hear him talking thus, 

And hastened to reply: now is mid-autumn, 

See how the autumn looks! . . . 

I offered a persimmon to the sage, 

And with his lips against the fruit he said: 

I never knew how deeply coloured a persimmon is; 

Why did you not tell me before? 

The young priest said: 

If you desire a long and healthy life 

Do not indulge in drinking sake . . . 

I was so glad to hear him talking thus, 

And hastened to reply: drinking is relaxation, 


Look here and see the colour of spring! . . . 
I offered the sage a cup of sake, 
And with the cup against his lips he said: 
I never knew how delicious sake can be; 
Why did you not tell me before? 

The young priest said; 

If you desire to tread the narrow path 

Do not lend ear to the sirens' song . . . 

I was so glad to hear him. talking thus, 

And hastened to reply: songs reflect the singer's 


Listen now to what it says ! . . . 
I offered the sage a tuneful song, 
And with his soul in ecstasy he said: 
I never knew how charming a song can be; 
Why did you not tell me before? 

The young priest said: 

I am one who is searching for Truth, 

You must not tempt me out of the Way . . . 

I was so glad to hear him talking thus, 

And hastened to reply: love is one of the ways, 

Look where it carries you to ! . . . 

I pointed to my breast, 

And trapped by passion the sage then said: 

I never knew how sweet it is to be in love; 

Why did you not tell me before? 

One autumn evening 

As we were walking out together, 

We came across a stone and picked it up ... 


We found it white as snow. 
The young sage said: 

Why, this must be the Philosophers* Stone; 
I love its colour very dearly: 
I will treasure it up, out of men's sight, for 
ever . . . 

In the Birdless Country 

LIKE two bats in the birdless country," 
Sosuke, with a spade across his shoulder, 
Kosuke, with a net in his hand 
S5suke off to the mountain, Kosuke to the sea. 

Cucumber-flowers in bloom, cool dews 
On mulberry leaves along the mountain path, 
Cicadas' songs in the evening shadows 
Kdsuke, on the sea, dreams enviously of these. 

Boats drying out on the beach, seaweed 
Scattered along the sands, the voice 
Of summer's sea heard among wave-tossed weeds 
Sosuke, on the hill-top, dreams enviously of these. 

This is the world of change a change indeed I 
Kosuke, now, with a spade across his shoulder, 
Sosuke, in turn, with a net in his hand 
Kosuke off to the mountain, S5suke to the sea. 

Mist opens the day, and frost will close it; 

Swift as thought, the spring is past, and autumn too. 


Our dreams are like wild flowerlets, 
The blown sand buries them from sight. 

As swift and brief 

Are youth's vague hopes where are they now? 

Look back, and nothing now is left 

Of Sdsuke's or of Kosuke's dreams. 

The lilies are back once more, 

And green plums hanging on the trees. 

In the glaucous shadows, with irresolute footsteps, 

Sosuke returns, along with Kosuke. 

Crafty Fox 

THERE in the garden, a little fox 
Steals out at night, when no one is about, 
And under the shadow of the autumn vines 
He eats in secret the dewy bunch. 

Love is no fox, 

Nor you a bunch of grapes. 

But unbeknown my heart stole out 

And plucked you in secret, when no one was about. 

First Love 

WHEN I saw you, your hair newly put up, 
Under the bough of an apple tree, 
I formed a picture of you as a girl in flowers, 
Wearing a flower-comb above your forehead. 


When you reached out a soft white hand, 
And gave me an apple a fruit of autumn 
Tinged with rose then I knew 
I was deep in love, my first love. 

When the sigh I failed to hide 
Lightly stirred your hair, 
From the cup of love you gently offered 
I sipped my fill. 

Under the bough of the apple tree 
A lane had grown before we knew. 
You ask, who was the first to tread it? 
A simple question that shakes my heart. 

A Coco-nut 

FROM some far-off unknown island 
A single coco-nut is washed ashore. 

How long have you roamed the waves 
Since leaving your native land? 

Is the parent palm still green, 

Its leaves still offer welcome shade? 

I am a wanderer too, no shelter but the beach, 
Alone, not knowing where to lay my head. 

When I press the nut against my breast 
I feel once more that desolate longing. 


"Watching the sun as it sets in the sea 

Strange tears in a strange land soak my cheeks. 

My thoughts are borne across the eight-fold waves 
Back to my native land oh when shall I return? 


The Moon on the Ruined Castle 

When in spring they viewed the blossoms from, the turret, 
Wine-cups passed round, reflecting the moonbeams 

That gleamed through the boughs of the ancient pines 
Where are they now, those beams? 

When in autumn the frost lay white on the carnp 

And one by one the crying geese were counted in flight, 
Bright upon rows of drawn swords the light was seen 
Where arc they now, those beams? 

And now upon the ruined castle the moon of midnight 
For whose sake shines the moon as bright as ever? 
Only the ivy still entwines the walls, 

Above the pines the raging wind alone is singing . . . 

That heavenly radiance has remained unchanged; 
Only on earth are vicissitudes suffered 
Is it to lighten them, that now 

Ah, the midnight moon shines bright on the ruined 

Fair Japan 

Now spring is far behind with its pink mist of overflowing 

And brocaded autumn, strewn with red leaves and chrysanthe- 
mums, is also on the wane; 


But the Fifty-three Stages along the Tokaido 

Are the living images of the prints of Hiroshige 

The snowy mornings in the ancient capital, 

The mountain range that lies behind, with its Thirty-six Peaks, 

And below them the River Kamo, 

So bare and gloomy at low-water, in the winter-time, 

Yet often enlivened by the vernal gaiety of music and singing . . . 

For a hundred leagues the San-yo sea-shore runs to the west, 

Where lonely havens and long beaches, one after another, 

Each with a new curve, succeed, the sea and the hills 

Revealing their exquisite forms. 

No lovelier, in truth, is the sight of Messina or Naples: 

There, at the foot of Mount Etna, they boast of Taormina 

(True vestige, they tell you, of Greater Greece) ; 

And here we have the Bay of Miho 

Under the shadow of the great hibiscus, Mount Fuji, 

Capped with perpetual glittering snow 

The Bay of Miho, famed for the Hagoromo robe 

That a fairy danced in, a fairy from the moon, 

Long ago on the beach, long ago; 

Over the western strip of sea is the Yaba Gorge, 

Renowned for its rocks, carved by a deity's chisel; 

Equally famed, the ravine of the Tenryu River 

Breaks inland for miles, from the Tokai shore; 

Away to the north-east, among undulating mountains, 

Is Lake Towada, inset like a lucid mirror, a fairy pool: 

The traveller will recall Lake Maggiore. 

At the land's edge in the north-eastern region, 
A mountain, taking its name from 'Gold', defies 
With its giant rocks the wrath of the ocean; 


Alongside race dark-green tides, for thousands of miles 

Across to the continent of America. 

Springing from the depths of the southern seas 

The Warm Current, vast in extent, bears its numberless 

To the shore it clashes with the Cold Current from the 

Sea of Okhotsk: 
The ocean churns and rages, 

Clouds well out, waves heave, and gales break loose 
This is where the Tuscarora Trough lies, unplumbed. 
For all its name of 'Pacific', the maddened water here 
Prevails, the billows beating at the sky 
Well may they totter, the great ships, the castles of the sea! 
But enough of struggle, confusion and turmoil 
The small bay of Matsushima, 'Pine Island', 
With its islet clothed in a hundred pine-trees, 
Beams like a smile. 

Ah, high are the mountains and limpid the streams, 

Deep and unruffled the pools which they form! 

Who is there but knows it? 

The fame of exquisite Matsushima, 

Image of the fabled elysium of Horai 

Far away in the east, 

A thing of such beauty could it long be hidden? 

The cynosure of wonder, to which are turning 

The longings of millions, east and west alike. 



Were I in the Province of Yamato" 

WERE I in the province of Yamato, now in October . . . 

I would follow a lane through the wood of Kaminabi, with its 

sparse-leaved trees, 

To Ikaruga, at dawn, the dew on my hair when the tall grass 
Ripples across the wide field of Heguri like a golden sea, 
And the colour fades from the dusty paper-window, and the sun 

is faint 
Between the wooden columns, insatiably, I peer at the golden 

letters of the precious age-old scriptures, 
At the ancient Korean lyre, the grey unglazed pottery and the 

gold and silver paintings on the wall. 
This is the Shrine of Everflowering Arts, the inner sanctuary 

fragrant with burning incense, 
Whose fumes intoxicate me, like an urn of nectar. 

On the terraced fields along the newly opened road, 

Reddish mandarine oranges glimmer between the leaves it is 


When you might turn at the pleasing sound of a tranquil song 
And discover a yellow warbler, hopping on a bough like a pigmy 


Light of feather, hovering airily, a roaming leaf, 
In the hedges and among the trees 
Can it be a spirit of the fields, disguised? 
From deep in the twilit temple comes the sound of a sutra 
Hearing it, some careless stroller of old 
Might have thrilled through his being . . . 


The sun is low now, behind the trees, and people 

Cluster quietly together in the garden of the Dream Palace, 

Where dry crinkly leaves scuttle along, the leaves 

Of maples, nettle-trees and broad-leaved bo-trees . . . 

Silently the corridor is listening 

To the murmur from the street; turning back, 

You will see high pagodas, their tarnished spires dyed by the sun's 

last rays, 

Which the flowers too throw back an evening scene 
Recalling the old days, when Buddhist monks 
Softly trailed their long robes on the ground behind them . . . 
Ah, were I in the province of Yamato, 
This day in October, and this hour of evening, 
Then for a moment at least, I should have shared 
In the souls of the saints, myself! 

In the Heat of the Day 

THE time is midsummer, 
The hour is noon 
The sun shines white 
On the ears of corn, 
The sun spatters 
Across the track, 
The sun seethes 
Like raw foaming sake. 

In a small meadow 
A line of trees 
Dangle their leaves 
Like limp arms; 


The stagnant bog 
With its green scum 
Is dazzled now 
And breathes its last. 

A flake of cloud 
Gasps and wavers 
And shudders past 
And disappears; 
The azure sky 
Seems nothing but 
A vacant grave ! 

The surface scum 
Is now warmed over; 
The newt bores through 
The bottom filth; 
Stunned by the smell 
Of the dusty earth 
The snake retires 
Beneath the grass. 

That solemn Wrath 
That rules on high 
Lonely indeed! 
Nothing more proud 
Than that inexorable Soul, 
The Sun 
Of the month of June! 


Home Thoughts" 

MY home is where the warm sun shines on the Cicada River, 
Where the countless birds sing on the boughs the livelong 

On the day of the equinox, the Festival of the Dead, town-girls 

stroll to the temple 

And girls from Katsura, fishing the restless trout downstream, 
Smell pure wine in the drops that fall from the fishing-net a 

broad spring day, 
When young men row back from the cherry-viewing in the 

slow sound of oars, 

Talking with their loves in the shade of the young trees, 
While the boy-players of the Mibu farce, n with expert comic 

gestures, spread laughter among them 
Let us return there, you and I. 

My home is where young camphor leaves diffuse their dim 

In early summer the broad-leaved oaks wave their limp arms in 

the breeze, 
Along the lane through the gold-green shades of the wood of 


A lacquer-shafted ox-wagon quietly moves and there sits 
The Imperial Messenger, on his way to the Hollyhock Festival, 
In a court hat, adorned with a talisman twig. 
Or in June, at the Gion Festival, when the sun shines white 
On the roofs of the floats that creak along the city streets, flooded 

with spectators 
Priests from Hiei Temple, flower-girls borne along among 

them . . . 

Let us return there, you and I. 


My home is "where blown maple leaves scuttle about in Novem- 
ber winds, 
On frosty mornings in the fields of Makuza, and some of the 

pious monks, 
Coming to town on a halcyon Day of Congregation, are lost and 

homesick towards evening, 

On their way back, while showers fall, wet-eyed and lonely, 
In the southern outskirts short is the day, and sad, 
But the youthful votaries, absorbed in the treasure-house, 
Bend over the sacred sutras, in the shade of the Buddha's dusty 

And dream in the russet evening light of the Golden Shore 

beyond . . . 
Let us return there, you and I. 

My home is where black alders flutter their yellow leaves, in 

wind, along the path through the paddy, 
Where the brown cows tread homewards to the soft singing of 

the country girls, 
As the sun's last rays doze offin the evening, leaning afar towards 

some pagoda's spire 
There stands a tree whose leaves begin to fall doleful as a hired 

mourner idly adjusting her veil, 

And the moon can just be seen, casting a dreamy glance aside; 
As the blue clangour of the bells begins, the pilgrims yearn for 

those they have left at home . . . 
Let us return there, you and I. 



When the Wise Physiognomist Looked at Me 

WHEN the wise physiognomist looked at me today, 
'Dim and inauspicious are your brows,* he said. 
'Beware before the sky of this enthralling passion 
Is overcast and torn apart by gales and stay away!' 

'Stay away,' he told me ah! from your tender presence, 
From the rising wave of your soft black hair 
Softer than the undulating green of the meadows . . . 
What do you say to this verdict of his? 

Close your eyes, you will see at the end of the endless beach 
A shadow that moves in the twilight, with hanging head 
You will see a ravenous beast on the prowl! 

And that is it the shadow fleeing from you, 

Painted in the colour of melancholy, treading a path of thirst . . , 

But no rather the fragrant whirlpool and the dazzling storm! 

The Oyster Shell 

AN oyster in his shell 
Lives in a boundless sea, 
Alone, precarious, limited, 
How miserable his thoughts , . . 

Unseeing and unhelped, 

He sleeps behind a sheltering rock. 


But in his wakeful moments he must sense 
The ebb and. flow of the infinite deep. 

Though the turning tide at dawn 
May flood in to its height, 
The oyster's being, destined to decay, 
Is tied to a narrow shell. 

The evening star, so luminous, 
Tunis the waves to crests of corn: 
Us it reminds of a distant dove 
Of what avail to him? 

How sad a fate! Profound, unbearable, 
The music of the ocean 
Still confounds him day and night. 
He closes tight his narrow home. 

But on that day of storm 
When woods along the sea are shattered, 
How shall it survive the oyster shell, 
His shelter, left to die a destined death? 



The Precious Music of Heresy 

I MEDITATE upon the heresy of the degenerate age Christianity's 
magical Deus; 

On the Kapitein of the Black Ship, the wonderlands of the Red- 

The crimson glass, the sharp-scented carnations, 

The figured silk of the Southern Barbarians, and the arak, vinlio 
tinto and the other wines . . . 

Even in my dreams I see blue-eyed Dominicans, reciting their 


Talking of the strange banned God, of the bloodstained Crux, 
The deceitful device that shows the poppy-seeds as big as apples, 
Or the flexible optical instrument through which the paradisal 

sky is viewed . . . 

Houses are built of stones, and the white blood of their granite, 
Contained in a diamant glass jar, n is said to glow at night . . . 
And the visions of Electriciteit, in a fragrant smell o velvet, 
Shadow forth, I learn, the quaint birds and beasts of the lunar 

I am told that the cosmetics there are distilled from the flowers 

of poisonous herbs, 
And oh the image of Mary, even, is painted with putrid petrolic 

Moreover, the pale-coloured letters of Latin and Portuguese that 

run sideways, 
How full they are of sensual sounds, sweet and sad . , . 


Grant us, then', enticing Reverend Fathers 

Though a hundred years were contracted into one moment, and 

one should bleed to death on a cross, 
What care I? Grant us this day your secret of secrets, the exotic 

carmine dream. 
O Deus ! this I beg in yearning prayers that burn me, flesh and 

soul . . . 

Okarit and Kampei n 

OKARU weeps . . . 

Like a velvety hollyhock quivering in the lingering twilight, 

Like the soft touch of felt, 

Like the daylight fading from a field of buttercups, 

Like a puff-ball softly afloat in the air . . . 

She weeps and weeps and still the tears flow: 
Kampei is dead, Kampei is dead, 
Kampei the darling, so young and so handsome 
Kampei has committed harakiril 

Okaru weeps as she thinks of the smell of the youthful flesh . . . 
A keen stimulant, she reflects, as strong as the onion in the malt- 

The lambent feel of his skin recalled the open light in May, 
His breath was as heated as hot black tea. 

Held close, she saw the midday salt-field flash with blue, 

Her nerves, as white as parsley, were taut, then faint, then 

The tremulous inside of his thigh, the lips that he sucked . . . 


On the day of parting, his white hand smelling lighdy of gun- 

Just before he entered the palanquin, as she sliced fresh vegetables 
ready for pickling, deeply absorbed . . . 

This Kampei is dead and gone! 

Like an orphan in a greenhouse, 

Okaru, excited by a medley of sensual memories, 

Luxuriates in her distresses. 

(Through the windows of the puppet theatre can be seen the red 
berries of spear-flowers glittering in the setting autumnal sun, 
and from below the hazy yellow city streets comes the whistling 
of river boats.) 

Okaru weeps . . . 

Accompanied by the heart-breaking samisen,^ 
Beautifully manipulated and in utter abandonment, 
Rising upon the swell of the chanter's voice, 
She weeps and weeps, as if to drown herself, 
Okaru weeps . . . 

(Colours, and odours, and music . . . 

Who cares what happened to Kampei . . . ?) 

Spinning- Wheel 

SPINNING-WHEEL, spinning-wheel quiet and deep hums the 

hand-spinning ; 
How wistful the evening, when the spinning-wheel is softly 



Two aboboras," golden and red, lie on the wooden floor, 
On the \vooden floor of the Community Medical Centre 
How lonely she is, the old caretaker, sitting there all alone ! 

Deaf and blind. But now that May is here, 
How sweet the faint and dusty smell of the scattered cotton ! 
The white skeleton in the glass case how strangely solitary; 
The moonlight along the canal how modestly it slants aside! 

Spinning-wheel, spinning-wheel, calm and silent is the hand that 

How wistful the evening, as her thoughts are softly turning ! 


Native Place 

MY native place 
A field of trees 
Under the moon 
Faint sounding flute 

The girl 

Her heart on fire 
Listened once 
And tears fell 

Ten years passed 
In that same heart 
Do you still weep 
A mother now? 

After the Kiss 

'ARE you asleep?' 
'No/ she says. 

In May, 
And midday 

Under the sun 
On the grass by the lake, 
I'd die like this, eyes closed/ 
She says. 


Bell Across the Snow 

AT dusk, upon my heart 
The snows of memory fall 
Soft and tremulous, 
Monotonous and drear. 

Buried griefs sleep underneath: 

My voice closed up and covered in, 

I place my breast against the burning tomb 

Yet how melodious the bell now sounds, 
How tears refresh, when once they're shed! 
The soft chime trembles out . . . 

I dream 

Of how 1*11 tread my boundless way . . . 
The wind that blows along the dale 
Subtly stirs my heart awake . . . 

Even this sunset, sorrow-silvered, 

Bends a faithful smile on me. 

Oh green grass ! 

Tender shoots among the snow there, 

I would come yearning forth like you, 

There, over there, with delicate hands . . . 

Song of Departing May 


In the recess of the ruined garden 

The blossoms scatter intermittently, in silence 


The footsteps of the -wind, 

And in the gentle light of afternoon 

The back of sweet departing May . . . 

Soft blue is the sky all over, 
And in the dreaming trees 
The birds are singing vainly . . . 

Now, in the garden, 

Memory hangs her head 

And sheds her secret tears 

While Time, 

Along a path of wistful scents, 

Cradling his tender thoughts, 

Already leaves his happy home behind . , . 

Departing May 
I see your back . . . 

Glitter of tiny insects, creeping things of earth, 
The drone of swarming honey-bees . , . 
Amid the glitter and the hum turned golden 
And dreaming in the grief-choked sun, 
Amid it all, May is departing, 
Beautiful May! 

In the recess of my ruined garden, 
Near the pond where mosses flourish 
And saffron blossoms flutter down, 
Lonely blossoms, forming folds of silence, 
Drifting, floating in the sun 

There a single dragonfly, blue-gleaming, 
Fixes his pupils in a settled stare. 


Departing May 

I see your back . . . 

Farewell to the blue stare of the dragonfly, 

Farewell to the fluttering saffron blossoms 

Time takes his leave of the midday pond . . 




TRANQUILLITY, the winter night, 

And on the stove the water simmering . . . 

A faint flush rises to my face 

Is it illusion, the ear's imagination, 

That as I gaze into the heeltap of the sherry 

I seem to hear a distant human voice, 

And voices sobbing in the distance? 

'Why? Oh why . . . why i-i-s it 

That you-ou-ou . . . ?* 

Can it be Rosh5 n that is singing? 

This spring I heard her in Kyoto, in a music-hall, 

Rending her listeners' hearts 

Or is it the alcohol? 

In the calm of the winter night 
The sherry is auburn-clear. 
Can it be Rosho that is singing, 
Or is it the alcohol? 
Pushing the curtain aside, I watch 
The star-lit night across the KoamichS banks, 
A solitary barge ... the light sound of the water. 
(To the Host of the bar, Maison Konosu) 



PASSING under the Ryogoku Bridge 

A big ship lowers its main-mast; 

'Here we go!' the boatman cries . . . 

The fifth of May, and a dampish chilly wind. 

The fast boat from Yotsume" glides along with slow strokes 

of the oars; 

Settling on the printed peony of the Garden livery, 
A butterfly sways to the waves . . . 

Kikumasamune, the fabulous Nada sake 

Into the thin-walled tumbler I pour the old familiar 

fragrance . . . 

Upstairs in a European restaurant 
I gaze at the twilit sky at sunset, 

Over the dreamy dome of the Kokugikan Wrestling Hall, 
At the far-off bird in flight, the shadow of the evening bird. 
My heart is ill at ease . . . but why? 

This Side and That Side 

ON that side of the street a woman passes, 

Her hood drooping over her eyes; 

On this side a man is walking 

He looks cold. 

This is the evening stroll, in a lonely street, 

And they seem in no hurry at all 

Even though they are strangers, 

Why don't they walk along together . . . ? 


My Poetry 

MY poetry is not part of western poetry; 

The two touch, circumference against circumference, 

But never quite coincide . . . 

I have a passion for the world of western poetry, 

But I do not deny that my poetry is formed differently. 

The air of Athens and the subterranean fountain of Christianity 

Have fostered the pattern of thought and diction of western 

It strikes through to my heart with its infinite beauty and 


But its physiology, of wheat-meal and cheese and entrecotes, 
Runs counter to the necessities of my language. 
My poetry derives from my bowels 
Born at the farthest limits of the far east, 
Bred on rice and malt and soya-beans and the flesh offish, 
My soul though permeated by the lingering fragrance of 

Gandhara n 
And later enlightened by the 'Yellow Earth' civilization* 1 of a 

vast continent 

And immersed in the murmuring stream of the Japanese classics 
Now marvels excitedly at the power of the split atom . . . 
My poetry is no other than what I am, 
And what I am is no other than a sculptor of the far east. 
For me the universe is the prototype of composition, 
And poetry is the composed counter-points. 
Western poetry is my dear neighbour, 
But the traffic of my poetry moves on a different path . . . 


Taciturn Sea Captain 

I'M making another trip, 
Way past the Southern Cross. 

Well, yes, 

When the wind blows in earnest, it blows in earnest . . . 

No, I'm not scared 

The roundish world out there is too unhuman for that . . . 

That's what I like 

There's a fish that screams, 'What use humanity?' 

All humbug! 

I've never feasted on Wonders or Mysteries! 

Reality, just that 

That's what weighs and weighs upon us . . * 

How do I look? 

Sad, and gay, and something more besides . . . 

Really winter now! 

Smoke from the roofs along the water-front, not many 
people about, mountains white . . . 

Well, be seeing you, then. 

Hey, the cigarettes don't leave them behind! 


The Rain-beaten Cathedral 

ANOTHER squall! 

Looking up at you, the collar of the overcoat 

Lifted against the slanting rain It is I, 

He who makes it a rule to come at least once each day 

The Japanese. 

This morning 

A terrible storm, increasing since daybreak, 

Now rages in the four corners of Paris. 

I cannot distinguish east from west, 

Nor even which way the storm is moving, as it runs amok, here 

in the lie de France . . . 
But here I am again, 
Oh Notre-Dame of Paris! 
Soaked with rain, 
Just to gaze at you, to touch you, 
To steal a kiss from you, your flesh of stone. 

Another squall! 

It is the hour for morning coffee, 

But when I looked down from the Pont Neuf on my way, 

The barges were still on the leash, like puppies, along the banks 

of the Seine; 

The autumn-bright leaves of the plane-trees 
Like so many finches driven by a hawk 
Were scattered in a flutter of light . . . 
And when their branchy heads are jerked and tossed 
The horse-chestnuts there behind you 
Send their grey starling leaves scurrying in the air 
The pelting rain and the contrary wind 
Dash them, like arrows, down on the stone-paved square. 


The square is patterned all over now 

Running silver broken by islets of gold-umber leaves. 

The roar of the torrent vibrates in the pores of the skin, 

Howling, grating . . . 

Though human voices are dumb 

The other creatures of Paris join in this outcry! 

In the shower of golden plane-tree leaves 

I stand, in the middle of it all. 

No different the storm in my native country, 

Except for your towering presence! 

Oh Notre-Dame, Notre-Dame! 

Cathedral like a rock, a mountain, an eagle, a squatting lion 

A hidden rock in a mist, 

The bulwark of Paris, 

Pelted by blinding rain, 

Buffeted head-on by the beating wind, 

You rise up before me, oh my Notre-Dame of Paris! 

It is I, who look up at you, 

The Japanese. 

My heart thrills at the sight of you; 

Before the semblance of heroic tragedy, 

This youthful heart, come from a strange and different land, is 

It throbs irrationally, trembles in time with the screaming air. 

Another squall! 

How they rage, the four elements, striving to efface you, to turn 

you back to nothingness! 
Rain splashes in smoke and phosphorescence; 
The scaly spotted cloud grazes against your peaks; 


The entwining cyclone seeks to snatch in its claw just one of 

your belfry pillars; 
Beyond count, tiny bright fluttering elves collide, burst and 

stream on the tracery of the rose-windows . . . 
The gargoyles, glimpsed through the splashes high on the edge 

of the building 

They alone bear the brunt of the fluttering mob of elves, 
Lifting their paws and craning their necks, 
With bared teeth, voiding the fiery stream of wind and rain . . . 
Rows of curious stone saints nod to each other, with odd 


Huge buttresses on the sides lay bare their arms as ever, 
And the storm beats on those slanting arcs with all its force! 
The peal of the organ on the day of Mass! 
What has become of the cock on the thin high steeple? 
Fluttering curtains of water are falling on all sides now 
And you stand in the middle of it all ... 

Another squall! 

And there at the heart of it 

The Cathedral, firm with the weight of eight centuries 

Millions of stones, laid one by one by the hands of age-old faith, 

Gigantic scaffold of truth and belief, reaching to eternity . . . 

You stand alone and dumb, 

Stand and resist the might of the storm; 

At the mercy of the elements, 

Knowing the power of nature, yet you preserve your calm, as 

long as the earth remains unshaken. 

Oh the flesh of stone, rusted, grey, iron-blue, gleaming with rain I 
With my hand upon it, 

I feel as if I touched the white hand of Esmeralda 
Esmeralda, in the monster's company, 


Storm-loving hunchbacked Quasimodo, who may be lurking in 
some corner at this moment 

That ugly body bore a righteous soul, 

Possessed the strength of steel; 

Ruffians, bullies, mockers, evildoers, 

Above all, petty people and their gossiping all their blows he 
caught on his silent back, 

He deemed himself but dust in the service of his God . . . 

It was you who bore this monster! 

And how many more have since been born? 

No longer hunchbacked or grotesque, but normal healthy Quasi- 

Bred in this tender bosom of yours, solemn and full of a mother's 
protective love . . . 

The rain-beaten Cathedral! 
After a pause, another squall, in allegro 
Down swings the baton in a sudden flash, 
And all the instruments of heaven are in commotion 
All round, the chaotic revolutions of a rhapsody . . . 
And in the midst of it, oh Cathedral, towering in sheer silence, 
Watching intently over the roofs of storm-ridden Paris! 
Do not take it amiss 
That someone stands here now, 
A hand against your corner-stone, 
A fevered cheek against your flesh- 
It is I, drunk with beauty, 
The Japanese! 



VIEW of the sky 
At twilight, 
And my past life 
The sadness of it; 

Across the sky 

Birds of passage 

In their enormous "world 

Have gone no one knows where . . . 

The Curve 

AT the bottom of the river 

In the afternoon 

A moving motor-car 

Giving a fish a ride 

And running it over 

Causes a brilliant disturbance. 

In the Blue Sky 

IN the blue sky 

Fish 'were swimming. 

In time with my sighs 

Deep drawn 

Fish were swimming. 


Fins of the fish 
'Were glittering. 

Here, there, 


Lots of fish were swimming. 

In the blue sky 

Fish were swimming. 

And those fish 

Had each a heart . . . 

An Old Pond 

THERE is an old pond in the hills: 

The pond is a man in prayer 

Still is the water, 

And in the mirrored sky 

The cloud how lonely! 

Startled by the rustling wind 

A water-bird has plunged 

Down to the very bottom 

The one cloud in the sky is quivering 

With its brilliant setting sun, 

Its bird, 

Thus bobbing up and down 

This is the pond of the human heart, 

Where loneliness lingers on. 


There is an old pond in the hills: 
The vision of the water 
And the solitary bird . . . 



Late Autumn 

THE train was passing overhead, 

And my thoughts meandered into the shade. 

Looking back, I was surprised to find 

How my heart was at rest! 

Streets were strewn with the autumn sun's last 


Traffic crowded the highway. 
Does my life exist at all? 
Yet in the window of a humble house, 
Along a back street where the smoke still hung, 
Purple hollyhocks were blooming. 

Night Train 

MORNING'S dim twilight 

Looks chill through the finger-traces on the window, 

And the mountain ridge dawning pale white 

Is as silent as quicksilver. 

The travellers lie half-awake, dreaming . . . 

How dreary! The tired electric lamps sigh inconsolably. 

The sweet tang of the varnished woodwork 

Or the tobacco smoke that curls faintly 

On a tongue made tasteless by the night's Journey 

Wretched enough, 

How much more lonely a wife in a strange place! 

Haven't we passed Yamashina yet? . . . 


And she, turning the valve of the pneumatic pillow, 

Furtively lets the air out ... a feminine act! 

Suddenly nestling together in grief 

We look out of the window at the breaking dawn 

And find, in an alien countryside, 

Blooming columbines, white, white! 

A Leisurely Indulgence 

Walking in a grove of pines 

I saw a cafe, cheerful-looking 

Far away from the city streets, 

No one came to visit it. 

Secluded among trees, it was a cafe 

Reminiscent of dreams . . . 

Blushing as if for love, the girl 

Brought me a special dish, 

Refreshing as an early morn . . . 

I took my time, then lifted up my hoku," 

And ate omelette, fried fish and suchlike. 

White clouds were floating in the sky 

It really was a leisurely indulgence. 


With lips painted lightly pink 

And powder smelling white and cool about the 

neck hair 

With your breasts like rubber balls, 
Don't press too hard against my chest, 


Nor -with your whitebait fingers 

Tickle my back so cunningly 


Ah, -with a sigh so scented, 

Don't gaze too closely into my eyes 


Drop your little tricks 


You are sad, 

Because you can never do without them. 



A swamp, 

And an azure sky: 

"Weighing ponderously upon one's hand 

A pure-gold tortoise quietly sleeps . . . 

This bright unhappy Heaven-and-Earth 

He bears in pain, 

And probingly sinks through one's soul . . . 

The tortoise sinks in the deep azure sky. " 

A Sick Face below the Surface of the Earth 

BELOW the surface of the earth a face appearing, 
A sad invalid face appearing. 

In the dark below the surface of the earth 
A grass stem softly starting to sprout, 
A rat's nest starting to sprout, 


Countless tresses entangled, 

The nest beginning to tremble; 

And at the winter solstice 

On the sad sick surface of the earth 

Beginning to grow, the roots of green bamboos 

Beginning to grow, 

Looking terribly pathetic, 


Terribly, terribly pathetic . . . 

In the dark below the surface of the earth 
A sad invalid face appearing . . . 



Lonely Spring 

THE sunbeams drip, drip, incessantly; 
Half asleep, the water-mill turns and turns; 
In the sapphire sky 

Far off are seen the Echigo mountains 
So lonely . . . 

No word heard or spoken all day long, 
I walk the fields. 
Away into the distance 
Undulate the rape-seed flowers 
Now it is more than ever 
So lonely . . . 

Susaki Waterfront n 

Do not come out in the broad daylight! 
The light will make your pale forehead ache. 

In sleep your face resembles sulphur; 

That old familiar forehead it resembles death. 

On the wintry Susaki waterfront I woke, alone and 

Groping about me, I found chill flesh . . . 

Driven from my lodgings, I had no home to go to; 

With bowed head in the last tram, 

I heard with you the midnight winter sea . . . 


The tram came out of the breaking day; 

And I had no home to go to ... 

Far off, in the pale sky, geese were flying. 

Towards the Susaki -waterfront my thoughts are 

Ah, what is she doing now, in the metropolis? 



Song of the Samma n 


Autumn wind! 
Have pity tell 
How a man, alone, 
At supper this evening, 
Is eating satnma, 
Lost in thought . . . 

Samma, satnma 

Eaten with a sprinkling of juice from a sour mandarine 
That is the custom in his native place. 
Oddly amused by it, how often the woman 
Has picked a green mandarine for the supper table! 
Ah, when a woman soon to be left by her husband 
Sat at table with a man whose wife betrayed him, 
The little girl whose father was a brute, 
Fumbling with her little chopsticks, 
Held out her samtna guts to him who was not her 
father . . . 


Autumn wind ! 

You surely saw 

That unusual picture of domestic happiness. 

Come now, 

Autumn wind, 

At least bear witness 

That those moments of happiness were not a dream! 



Autumn wind! 

Have pity tell 

The wife restored now to her husband, 

Tell the child no longer fatherless 

That a man, 

Alone this evening at his supper table, 

Is eating samma, 

Is in tears . . . 

Samma, samma 

Bitter, is it not, and salty 

Taking samma t hot tears sprinkled on it! 

Eating samma thus which country's custom is it? 


How nice to know . . . 

To a Person 

LAST night was the second time you have appeared in my dream: 
Your husband, however, has done so no less than six times . . 

With you I find little to talk about, even in a dream: 
With him, however, I walk and talk and am merry. 

Even the dream world, I find, is against me; 
Hence my doubts as to the Other World . . . 

After both dreams I wake and cannot sleep for long; 
Your dream, though, is ephemeral 


Whereas your husband's always lasts too long, 
And leaves me with a headache on the morrow. 

I confess how much I wish to see 

Your husband killed by me in my dream 

And wish to see 

How much I shall regret the killing . . . 

A Wish 

POINTLESS, without meaning, 


But true. 

An extraordinarily true poem 

If one of these days 

I could write just one of that sort! 

Now I know what God intended, 

When he made a cloud. 

The lullaby 

That once my mother sang 
If I could bring it back entire! 
But she has long forgotten it 
Sung on the moment's spur. 

Once in my life-time, 

If only I could write 

An air-like song, free and unobtrusive, 

Yet striking directly at the bowels of men, 

All superfluities at once disgorged, 

And lasting as long as humanity lasts 

Just one of that sort, if only I could! 


Sapporo City 

UPON the far-drifting flood of grey 

And on the sand of the square of the twisted town 

I sprinkled my sorrows, 

Like so many green fables 

Which the little birds had no desire to peck . . . 


WHITE-BEARDED Dr Yamada goes home with books tinder his 

Twilight creeps silently along; the shoots on the trees softly 


Birds soar, the air weighs heavier; my toothache is more than I 

can bear; 
Windows spring out blue-lighted; blue are the sighs that recite 

the clumsy De-kli-na-tion w . . . 

Fantasia Under the Clear Sky 

At the Mizusawa Observatory 

AT the farthest point of the cold bright azure sky, 

On the right shoulder of the heights of Taneyamagahara, 

A conic form is seen, 

In shape akin to the head of Buddha. 


Exhausted by mathematical calculations, 
My eyes at first are surprised at the apparition 
Of a secret tower in a strange aerial expanse, 
But find, after all, it is merely water and air, 
A dazzling cumulus, and nothing more . . . 

To some, though, this is not the whole story. 

Right along the bluish edge of heaven, 

The peaks and ridges of palaeozoic soil 

Armoured in blazing ice and snow 

And the basins and the valleys 

All contain some legendary tree or barrow, 

Each by tradition the dwelling place of a demon. 

And if you wilfully fell the tree 

Or open up the barrow into arable land 

Or pick too many irises thereabouts . . . 

Yes, on such a lovely windless day as this, 

Well might one be carried off, 

Into the seemingly quiet pile of eight-fold agate clouds, 

And there hung upside-down in the brilliant air, 

Stabbed through and through by spears in unseen hands 

Or beaten and crushed in the head or breast 

And left for dead . . . 

Many still believe this, and fear it still. 

But now to me, unseen, 

It seems as if the fourteen stars of the day 

Are cutting through the cobweb strands of the celestial 

And the Andromeda couple are quiedy passing by 


So mellow the light 

Of the emerald sky 

That my eyes are renewed, 

And I dare to enter the dismal door 

To stoop once again 

Over the scribbled mass of mathematical calculations . . . 

Silent Wail 

WITH all of us nursing you 

Must you still prolong the agony of life? 

While I, having lost my hold on the tremendous Faith, 

Having divested myself of purity and suchlike humble 

Now walk in the sombre bluish world of the Asura. n 

Are you treading the destined path alone? 
While I, your sole companion in the selfsame Faith, 
Am weary and wretched, out of the bright ascetic Way, 
Adrift in fields of hemlock and fluorescent fungi 
How far can you manage, by yourself? 

'I don't look pretty, do I?' 
With what pain and resignation in your smile 
You bravely question Mother; 
Your eyes too sharp to miss 
The slightest change in my expression. 

*No, you look quite pretty, child, 

Today you look your best!' 
Yes, indeed, 

Your hair glows darkly, 
Your cheeks are like a child's, like apples 


Go with those pretty cheeks 
To be reborn in Heaven! 

'But my body smells bad, doesn't it?' 
never! 5 

ISTo, it could not! 

Rather, these are summer fields 

Full of the sweet smell o small white flowers . . . 

Only, I cannot say that now 

(I who am walking in the Asura world). 
If my looks are sad 

It is that I am gazing at this double heart of mine 
Ah, do not turn away 
Your bitter eyes from mine like that! 


The Raven 

STARING into the deep darkness 
I see a raven. 

It has a beak, and sinewy feet. 
And the greedy way it pecks at the field is 

With fierce swells of solitude at its back 
The tide presses forward, howling like a tiger, 
It snaps at the distant rocks. 

In all likelihood its feathers are black as coal, 
Its heart as hard as iron. 

I wish I could drown this insolent bird in the sea; 
I cannot rest till I have burned it up like coal . . . 

The Fine Rain 

IN the morning as the fine rain falls 
A phantom dog comes creeping along. 

Making tea and drinking it alone, 

I have a phantom cat jump on my lap. 


For ,a moment, in a dream lane, 
I plant bamboos, lay flat stepping-stones, and 
listen to the wind. 

The cloud scurries by, and it is night; 

I close the tangible window and go to bed. 



HE has a giant's frame, 

He weighs ten thousand pounds of blackness, 

His body is measured out ... his every inch, 

His pipes and wheels and countless nuts and bolts are rubbed and 

polished inside and out. 
"When he moves 

The hands of meters are quick to turn; 
When he runs 

The rails and the sleepers shake; 
And when his piston-arms begin to stretch, 
When they shuffle to and fro and spin the wheels, 
And when I see him sweep through towns and villages, 
My heart starts throbbing, 
Tears fill my eyes . . , 
With a brass plate at his front 
And a red lamp hanging out, 
He is always emerging out of smoke, carrying a thousand lives. 

Flags and signals 

Wave him on ... on shining rails in perfect order . . . 

To the back of this big and honest man 

We raise our arms in eager praise. 


Tokyo Imperial University Students 

SAIXOW faces, 

Some in spectacles, 

Some in haoris y n 

Some in rubashkas 9 n 

Some in overcoats . . . with, buttons three indies 

in diameter, 

Some as shabby as beggars . . . 
And they wallc down the Ginza, 
"When drunk, they lapse into deliberate use of 

indecent vernacularisms. 
'Profundity of learning, 
Cultivation of character . . .* And 
'What Suffering Symbolizes is not so bad!* 

They parade in and out of the great Alain Gate; 
Some specialize in football . . . 



IN the stove the fire has fallen. 
We have already talked about 
Whatever is to be talked about 
Talked, and left nothing to be said, 
Left not a question to be settled. 

And yet 

How dissatisfied these hearts of ours remain! 

Friend with your head drooping in the up-turned 

Do you know 
How languid the truth is that is only proved by 



THE names of the trees, 

The names of the grasses, 

Are not too familiar to me; 

Nor the names of birds and insects 

I have forgotten them all. 

With the aid of scant knowledge and a feeble memory, 
I look at the plants in the field, I point at the crops, 
I call to the birds . . . 
Nature makes no response. 


I have long done without it all. 
Then this morning I saw over the reclaimed, land, 
Suddenly soaring into the sky, something like a lark 
(Isn't it called a lark?). 

There is neither tree, grass, bird, insect, nor anything any 

I have filled up the void of memory 
With 'Mori', TsToguchi*, 'Ayukawa*, and other such 
names . . , n 

6 7 

Birthday Again 

I PINNED a butterfly against the wall no more flitting 
about. Happiness I pinned as well . . . 

On the table a ribboned fowl, in the shape of the fowl. 
In the bottle the water, in the shape of the bottle. 
In her chemise she, in the shape of her beauty. 

The Warship 'Mari* 


The warship, which bore the name Man, lay at anchor again, 
at moon-rise, at a wharf in North China secret and as white as 

I was the Captain, a lieutenant, slim and fair, with the figure 
of a gazelle;* 1 I seemed to myself as graceful as a woman. I lay 
upon the morocco divan in the Captain's cabin, drowsing by day 
and by night, obsessed by opium and utterly abandoned. All this 
while a snow-white collie at my feet kept watch over me. I had 
been unable I do not know how long to move at will. I was a 


The moon-rise reminded me dimly of my sister my only 
sister. I had an inkling of her fate. Long now she had been 


violated by the vicious Chief Engineer of this ship, from Nor- 
mandy. But I was powerless. Moreover, the Mari was now a ship 
that shifted anchorage from port to port under cover of darkness 
a ship of the fleet, under the command of infamous Yellow 
Pirates . . , Against my will I was slipping into an innocent sleep 
a sleep that was not exactly sleep. 


Midnight. I awoke to the ominous creaking of the pulley. 
Once again someone was being consigned to the sea I had a 
vision of the wooden coffin sinking down towards the dismal 
water. Sharper than the flash of steel, I suddenly visualized the 
body of my sister, now a corpse. I struggled to get to my feet, 
but the snow-white collie, as cold as a button, was holding me 
down on the divan . . . Alas! Impotendy I writhed my feeble 
body, and then fainted. 


The moon had slithered down like an almond. Black night 
reigned time for the Mari to weigh anchor. The ship swung 
round on its ram, under cover of darkness, the colour of the 

The Gulf of Tartary and a Butterfly 

SITTING cross-legged in a wooden chair, I nose at the muzzle of 
a gun. Smelt in the pale cerebrum, the gunpowder bears me off 
into the three-dimensional inner world . . . 

The rickshaw which carries me is climbing a slope along a 
park. Under the cloudy sky the merry-go-round is on the point 


of starting, and the horses are lining up their leather ears. But the 
rickshaw is already emerging out of the cloudy sky, gaining the 
summit of the ascent . . . 

I must acquiesce in this autonomous marching on . . . 

Her eyes are closed; she presses the side of her face against the 
map that hangs on the wall. Sliding along her shoulder, the 
haggard Gulf of Tartary flows like a shawl. 

Tliat slanting look of hers always implies indignation. I take 
no notice. 

I continue with the lesson, notwithstanding. 

To give the lesson, I walk up and down. 

To walk up and down, I pause. Thus engaged, her face at last 
breaks into a smile for me. 

The smile abruptly invites a projectile the projectile stitches 
her to the Gulf. 

Another second and her whole system will be dissolved. 
Tlarough the hole made, the Gulf will pour down in torrents. 
And how shall I hold myself together? 

I make up my mind. 

The releasing of the safety-catch sounds like the clipping of 
tickets at a provincial station. 

I level my gun, take careful aim at her . . . 

"When a butterfly flies up and quietly covers the muzzle. 



The Rush Hour 

AT die wicket 

The finger is clipped together -with the ticket. 



I like 

The aftermath of a festival. 

In the midst of the festival 
In the throng of people, 
I seldom lose myself. 
I look on 
I only look on. 

But when the festival is over 
And the people have all dispersed, 
I find myself hanging about 
"Where their merry-making was most 


And am always surprised 
At myself . . . 


Curiously enough, 


To help prepare for a festival. 


Faces in the Procession 

THE procession, its back turned to us, 

Was proceeding in good order. 

The clear stream 

Mirrored the shadows on its white sand bed. 

The line of trees gazed inquiringly down upon it . 

The procession proceeded in good order. 

After it 

The dogs 

Followed in a mass, without barking . . . 

But all of a sudden, 

As if it had smelt its owner, 

A dog sprang up 

And snapped at the hem of somebody's coat. 

Though the hem was about to be ripped off, 

The wearer would not turn round. 

The dog began to bark 

At each bark 

The hem 

Fell free from the dog's mouth. 

Then the dog pounced on it again. 

At this moment 

The procession, its back turned to us, 

All at once turned its face about 

Stardingly expressionless masks effaces! 

Just the selfsame face, each after each . . . 

Then all of the dogs 

Not only the one that tore the hem 

But all of the gathered dogs 

Shivered in unison, 

Dropped their tails on the spot 

And cringed. 



Japan for Sightseeing 

FUJIYAMA on sale! 

Miyajima on sale! 

Nikko on sale! 

Naruto, Aso 

All on sale! 

Nippon everywhere on sale! 

Please, please! Come and see! 

I rub my hands . . . 

I smirk . . . 

Money much, much: the more the better. 

Nipponese all buy motor-cars. 

Nipponese all fond of cigarette lighters. 

Nipponese all clever gardeners. 

Nipponese all singers of popular songs. 

All make kowtows. 

All, all, very meek yes, yes ! 


At the Close of Day 

IT is far into the night. 

The clamour of my beloved town has ceased, and my finger has 
ceased to turn the pages. The tiny, tiny feathers of Time alight on 
my eyelids. 

Turning the switch near at hand, I lean upon the darkness, as if 
upon the bosom of my mother. Noiselessly I mingle with the 


thick darkness. Just for the moment I yield up to someone else 
the form given to me . . , 

The moment, like that of the close of a life, makes me instantane- 
ously grow immense, immense. It is then that I start slowly 
encircling the whole globe . . . 

Memory of a Witch 

IN snake-coloured rights 

Tightly fitting her to a T, 

She made her entrance on the stage. 

Her pupils were mobile, 

Her arms were bare, 

Fragrant the back that was turned to me. 

I was five or six at the rime. 
Shouting some musical charm, 
'Hey presto! 9 she shot her pistol. 

Innumerable cards flew out of her mouth; 
A blindfolded girl floated through the air; 
A negro in a coffin was cut in half . . . 

That night I could not sleep: 

I wished to follow her wherever she might go. 

How can I forget those eyes, that voice! 

In the paper, I4th November 1944, 

I find her obituary notice in a corner, 

In No. 7 type, looking somewhat diminished 


Her real name, Katsu Nakai, born in Tokyo, 

She was a disciple of Tenichi, and died at the age of 

59 ... 

Ah, the -witch -who first planted the seed of love in me 
TenJeatsu Shokyokusai, turned to dust, turned to a 

luminous worm . . . 


Gay Summertime 

ENTICED by a beauty on a railway poster, 

Papa, who suffers from piles, vouchsafes to visit the sea. 

The sky is heartily blue, and the wartime boom 

Has swollen the summer colony; the sea is hot to boiling. 

In the backyard of a seaside inn the washing flutters, 
From early morning a plump-armed maid grinds at the 
pump . - . 

The town is busy switching on and off its lights, for air-raid 

While the boys in khaki complacently knock back beer. 

But somehow the autumn can be smelt around us. 

Oh, bony Mama with her gay cosmetics! 

Striped shafts of dazzling sunlight are touched with purple, 

All day with butterfly-nets children are chasing clouds. 

The Story of a Dream 

THE first streaks of dawn are faint 

On the morning of the first day of the year. 

My wife, her brow cut deep with years of care, 

Adds to her age another new year. 

Her face is resplendent with joy; 

Taking her fan out, she offers to dance. 


She asks consent of those in the other room 

They are silent. 

She asks again in a louder voice, 

And is answered with jeers. 

Tears stand in her eyes . . 

Moved to pity, 

I was about to favour her with a little money, 

When the dream dissolved away. 



SENDING Taro to sleep it slowly blankets Taro's roof: 
Sending Jiro to sleep it slowly blankets Jiro's roof. 


LIKE a butterfly, my nostalgia . . . The butterfly flies over hedges, 
sees the sea around the afternoon street-corner ... I hear the sea 
inside the wall ... I shut my book; I lean against the wall. It 
strikes two in the next room. 'Sea! Far-off sea! . . / I write down 
on the paper: SEA. In our language you contain a 'mother' in 
you." And MOTHER in the language of the .French, you have 
the 'sea* in you! 


AFTER all, freedom is theirs , . . 
The sky is where they make love, 
The clouds are where they lie ... 
Freedom is theirs, after all. 

After all, freedom is theirs . . . 
Their eastern wall is hung with the sun, 
The morning sea is their dining room . . 
Freedom is theirs, after all. 


After all, freedom is theirs . . . 
Their western window is hung with the sun, 
The evening sea is their dancing room . . . 
Freedom is theirs, after all. 

After all, freedom is theirs . . . 
They are their own native land, 
They are their burial place . . . 
Freedom is theirs, after all. 

After all, freedom is theirs . . . 

One star is their dwelling place, 

One tongue is enough for their speech , . . 

Freedom is theirs, after all. 

After all, freedom is theirs , . : 
The morning glow is their song at dawn, 
The evening glow is their song at dusk . . . 
Freedom is theirs, after all. 

The Deer 

IN the morning wood a deer reclines, 

The shadow of its antlers on its back. 

A gadfly follows its trajectory 

Straight to the ear arrested by a distant stream. 




A LISSOM goddess came with the south wind: 
She wetted the bronze, wetted the fountain, 
Wetted the belly of a swallow, its golden hair; 
She embraced the ride, licked the sands, and drank 

the fishes; 
She wetted in secret the temples, public baths and 

theatres . . . 

And those dishevelled platinum lyre-strings 
The tongue of the goddess 
Softly wetted my tongue . . . 

Let the Traveller Pause 

LET the traveller pause! 

Before you wet your lips 

At the meagre trickle here, 

Think, Life's traveller 

You, too, are a mere water-sprite 

That dribbles from between the rocks. 

This thinking water does not flow for ever, 

At some point in eternity it peters out . . . 

A jay is singing noisily. 

Sometimes, out of this very water, 

A phantom rises, crowned with blossoms: 


Life Eternal is a dream, useless to pursue it; 

Into the murmuring stream of life ephemeral throw all 

your cares, 

Till at last you vanish off eternity's cliff: 
This is the reality, this the real wish 

Thus speaks the phantom kappa/ 1 

Who leaves his watery home and comes to villages and 

towns for sport, 
"When water-grasses grow in the shade of floating clouds. 


Queroque the Frog: An Autobiography 

I WAS born in the suburbs of Bologna, 

In a lotus pond. 

Standing on his head and kicking the sky 

The sight of a grebe 

Was a source of amazement to me. 

My name is Queroque 

A tide conferred by myself, of course. 

One day I was caught in a net 

And borne straight off to a university; 

To the Galvani Laboratory, in fact. 

Some students (as it transpired) 

Passed by, humming a barcarolle 

On that afternoon, in the year 1780, 

A scalpel was applied to my abdomen, 

And the world conceived the idea of the electric 

I was dead, 

I was out of this world, 
The Italian heaven was very, very beautiful. 

Conversation on an Autumn Night 


Isn't it chilly! 

The insects chirrup. 

Yes, they do. 

Soon have to go underground. 


Oh, I hate to go underground. 

You get thin. 

So you do, considerably. 

'What is it exactly that bothers me? 

Stomach, I imagine. 

Shall we die when we have done with 

our stomach? 
Oh, I hate dying. 
The insects chirrup. 

The Frog 

YOUR dream 

Is beyond the horizon of peaks; 

Your back 

Is a trap for the heavens . . . 

(Yes, that's right.) 



High Summer 

UNDER the weight and depth of the brightness of the clear 
sapphire sky, and over the desiccated stubborn stubble the sun- 
flower now stands, tall and swaying, in dribbles of golden oil and 
sweat all over stem and leaves, as it turns and turns with the sun. 
Suddenly there are cicadas chirping incessantly a wind upon the 
flower's oil and fire . . . And in me, too, the days and years that 
I have let slip by, attended now by abundant shades and light, 
come surging back, surging back . . . 




WITH an alarming big voice, 

Won't someone knock at my door? 

With sturdy shoulders beneath a black mantle, 

Squaring those manly shoulders below 

"Won't someone call on me? 

Like an old dotard, 

The day monopolizes the autumn, 

Under the sun there is nothing but sighs; 

And loneliness unbearable 

Has struck the grasshoppers dumb. 

Stranger! Stranger! 

Take me, "won't you take me 

Where Time, like a bouquet, brings delight, 

To that city, full of wonders, 

Where I burn to go? 

With a deaf old woman 
Who doesn't deign to answer 
I have lived too long: 
It is time, yes, time 
To say goodbye. 

Won't someone help it! 

The child is crying 

For the doll that danced so well dances no more. 


Find, a new spring for the one that is broken, 
Find a new toy, a surprise, for the girl. 

Still they are 'waited for 

The footsteps I know it is idle to wait for 

Poor ears! 

Don't you know that Loneliness, 

Burning blue in a will-o'-the-wisp, 

Has just crept through the rickety door 

And. out of the house? 

Dante s Scourge 

At his Tomb 

BEFORE Dante's Tomb, -where the sun dedicates his everburning 
rays, I prayed to be truly human that, if this were granted, I 
would not ask to be a poet. 

Dante handed, me a silver scourge the famous scourge, 
supreme definition of high indignation, the scourge with which 
he whipped, his fatherland so bitterly that his arm ached. I shook 
it, promising in my heart never to use it on a mere pack-mule. 
I suddenly stood upright. 

Holly leaves abounded in Dante's Garden, and to their thorns 
I was now most sensitive. Like a woman new-born I signed 
in the visitors* book Your humble maid-servant, Sumako 
Fukao . . . 



Distant View of School 

TEN-ODD years I have journeyed since leaving school. 

Turning about, I see at a great distance in my memory 

The school like the relief on a small shiny medallion: 

The blocks of classrooms are crowned with tiers of earthen tiles 

And a teacher is speaking. 

Young faces, fixed in one unanimous stare, are listening to him; 

But next to a window someone is looking aside, 

Just as I did, looking abstractedly this way 

Hasn't he noticed me yet? 

Alas, I can see him so clearly from here . . . 

A Gyroscopic Lamp 

ONCE I took a fancy to the ship's lamp, lighted on a night voyage. 
It swayed to the incessant motion of the waves, yet always re- 
turned to its point of balance ... As a boy I always dreamt of 
being a sailor. 

How many years ago! 

The hurricanes of this human world have blown and blown on 
the sails of my life, and yet the gyroscopic lamp between my ribs 
has still kept upright the faint flame of my poetry. 


Mosquito Net 

IT is autumn now. 

Before one is quite aware, it is autumn, 

And time to get out the white-papered shoji n in the morn- 
ing and the evening too. 

We shall soon have done with the mosquito nets, 

In a few days they will be put away . . . 

The dark green colour, the red cloth hems 

And the metal rings to hang it by, that clink and rattle 
when you fold the nets . . . 

When you lay your tired body on the white bedding, 

How delightful the fine green shadows streaked along it 

As if on the slopes of a hill! 

And when you awake at midnight, 

A clean-shaven moon 

Is softly treading over the dark green waves . . . 

One night a star, like a woman's heart, 

Was sticking to the net: 

It tickled my heart. 

Wasn't it one of those nights 

That were sultry and feverish? 

When at nights 

The rain patters past, as if the drops were grass-seeds, 

I enjoy the cool feel of the mosquito net 

Against my naked feet; 


Immersed in its peculiar fragrance 

I hurry on my path of thoughts, alone . . . 

But when, like filtered bean-curds, 

Dawn spreads across the dwindling night, 

The dream-filled net will sway 

Like a ghost above its native hemp-field, 

And take me, half-asleep, will take me back to sleep 

It is autumn now. 

Before one is quite aware, it is autumn, 

And time to have done with the mosquito nets. 

Stone Staircase Overlooking the Sea 

MY hands lie on her shoulders. 

'We can sec the sea from here!' she says, turning. 

My hands drop, like a crab's claws . , . 

The vivid sea of early summer is seen through the summer- 
orange bush; 

I turn my eyes towards it, 

But at once they are fixed on the nearer objects her hair, her 
profile . . . 

To make up for the hands, deprived of her touch now, as 
heavy as if they were artificial. 


Evening Sea 

SLOW but steady, the twilight and the incessant 
Dull crests close in upon me from the rough grey surface. 
At the top of the lighthouse, hardly noticed, a green light 

It takes a long, long time for the aimless light 
(So reminiscent of some useless presentiment) 
To be made brighter and brighter by the darkness. 

But by and by, because of the all too regular revolution 
And the tireless blink of the green light, how wearied 
The sea will have to lie the whole night through! 

Picture Drawn by a Boy 


Big blue crucifers 

One by one fill the universe 

Pretty flowers! So many of them! 
No, Mammy, they're STARS ! 

A line is drawn across the middle, 

In the far right-hand corner a pole is placed 

Ah, the telegraph wire across the field! 


Now a wretched tumble-down house 
Is built in the near left-hand corner, 

W'ith a narrow oblong window and dishevelled grass 

Your house, this? 

Yes, and this is Daddy's window . . . 

The white voids are impetuously scrawled -with black 

It's night, it's night! 

A cattle-thief! A burglar! 

Dear me! 

A goggle-eyed bogey, 

Craning forward with arms dangling, 

Comes reeling out from behind the telegraph pole 

Over the darkened field 

And beneath the blossoms of stars. 


Chance Encounter 

HAIXEY'S COMET appeared in 1910 

(And I was born in the following year): 

Its period being seventy-six years and seven days, 

It is due to reappear in 1986 

So I read, and my heart sinks. 

It is unlikely that I shall ever see the star 

And probably the case is the same with human encounters. 

An understanding mind one meets as seldom, 

And an undistracted love one wins as rarely 

I know that my true friend will appear after my death, 

And my sweetheart died before I was born. 


Lsr the middle of a wilderness a band of wagons halted. 
The season was mid-winter and the rime was dusk. 
Clouds in the sky were low: a sign of famine and plague. 

In one of the wagons a man called Tsulu, 

With brows deeply knit, was talking to himself: 

'None of the princes would accept us; 

And our Master n will give no thought 

As to how my words fell flat, and why my ways were not 


Is it I am still deficient in Benevolence and Wisdom? 
I am even chagrined at my Master's self-composure/ 


In another wagon one called Tsukung, 

Lifting His sagacious eyes, was talking to himself: 

*NTone of the princes would, accept us; 

My reason tells me that my Master's way is great, 

But my worldly 'wisdom says how easily 

That greatness could be lopped, and therefore made 

Acceptable to the general run of men , . . 

I often resent my Master, and am then ashamed/ 

In a third wagon was one called Yenyiian,* 1 

Raising his greying head, he said: 

"None of the princes would accept us; 

And now I know this for a favourable sign. 

For day by day I become more certain 

That the True Way is unacceptable, and so are the truly 

And I think myself most blessed, to die in the faith of 

this "Way and this Master/ 

At that moment an old man in the middle wagon 

Began to strum a lyre, reciting poems; 

And the wilderness resounded with his voice and music. 



SOFT slow song, 
From where do you come, 
And -where, after me, 
Where will you fade? 

In the evening glow 
That closes the day, 
When the sky starts to fill 
With the murmur of stars, 

Like a string whose tone 

Is heightened to tears, 

O tender song, what lodging in me? 

And how send you back 

To where you belong, 

So late the hour, this lambent night? 


p. 15: Like two bats in the birdless country. In a birdless country the bat 
thinks himself important: cf. *In the country of the blind the one- 
eyed man is king*. 

p. 22: Yantato. The present-day Kansai: the description is of Horyuji 
near Nara. 

p. 25: Home Thoughts. The poem is about Kyoto. The Mibu farce 
(Mibu-kyogeri) is a religious pantomime dating back to 1299 
which is performed during ten days in April at Mibudera Temple. 

p. 29: diamant glass jar. Possibly electric light bulb; the following lines 
may refer to the magic lantern. 

putrid petrolic oil. Oil paint must have seemed a nasty if fascinating 
concoction as compared -with the native ink-stick and water. 

p. 30: Okaru and Kampei. A famous pair of lovers, from the story of 
the Forty-seven Ronin (Chushingura), popular as a Kabuki play 
and (as here) a puppet play. 

p. 31: samisen. Three-stringed instrument with small square sound-box 
and long neck. 

p. 32: dbobora. Portuguese for pumpkin. Kitahara, like other Japanese 
writers, makes great play with foreign words, partly for the 
exotic effect. 

p. 37: Rosho. A singer ofgidayu, the ballads chanted in puppet plays, 
p. 38: Yotsutne. Famous for its Peony Garden. 

p. 39: Gandhara. Ancient Gandhara in north-western India, with its 
Greco-Buddhist art. 

'Yellow Earth' civilization. Northern Chinese, Han Dynasty. 


p. 49: hoku. Japanese version of the word 'fork'. We have left it un- 
translated because the rather self-conscious use of the foreign 
eating implement (with something of the same associations that 
chopsticks have for us) is part of the 'special occasion* here 
enjoyed. Cf. drinking sake from a western tumbler in Kinoshita's 
poem on p. 38. 

p. 52: Susaki Waterfront. Southern part of Tokyo, along the Bay, it was 
known for its brothels. 

p. 54: Samma. Mackerel-pike. Broiled on a gridiron, this is a popular 
plain dish, especially in Tokyo; the guts are considered a delicacy 
on account of their bitterness. The word has been left untranslated 
because of its altogether different associations. The Japanese are 
great connoisseurs of fish, which they take so seriously that samma, 
for example, can be invoked without incongruity in a highly 
personal poem. 

p. 57: De-kli-na^tion. Declension. A German lesson is in progress 

p. 59: world of the Aswa. One of the six worlds of transmigration, this 
is filled with hatred and jealousy, for the souls there must fight 
one another without cease as a punishment for the violence com- 
mitted in their previous life, until they have worked out their 

p. 64: haori. A short coat worn over kimono. 
rubashka. Russian-style jacket. 

the Ginza. The thoroughfare which is the shopping and entertain- 
ment centre of Tokyo. 

p. 66: and other such names. That is, the names of modern poets. 

p. 67: with the Jlgure of a gazelle. The animal invoked in the original 
poem is the girafie: another case of dissimilar associations. 

p. 77: In our language you contain a 'mother* in you. The written character 
for *sea* contains the character for 'mother'. 


p. 80: kappa. 'River-child', a water-sprite very prominent in Japanese 
folk-lore. He has a hollow on the top of the skull, filled with 
water, which gives him great strength. When wrestling with a 
kappa, you must contrive to spill this water, otherwise he will 
drag you down into the river. 

p. 87: shoji. Sliding door or wall made of paper framed in wood, 
p. 91 : our Master . i.e Confucius. 

p. 92: Yenyiian. Better known as Yen Hui, Confucius' favourite disciple. 
The incident related in this poem is given by Ssu-ma Ch'ien in 
his Shih Chi. 


TOSON SHIMAZAKI (1872-1943) 

Youngest son of a scholar of Japanese classical literature. He was educated 
at a mission college in Tokyo and baptized. Later taught at a mission 
college in Sendai. Also distinguished as a novelist. He represented Japan 
at the International P.E.IsT. Conference in Buenos Aires in 1936. 

BANSUI TSUCHII (1871-1952) 

Mostly self-educated, though he later graduated from the English 
Department of Tokyo (Imperial) University. Spent three years in 
England, France, Germany and Italy. Late in life he was made a Freeman 
of Sendai City, -whereupon he adopted the more popular reading of his 
family name, Doi. Essayist and translator, notably of the Iliad and 

KYUKIN SUSUKIDA (1877-1945) 

His education was chiefly acquired in Ueno Library, the largest Tokyo 
library of Japanese classical literature. Later worked for the Osaka 
Mainichi newspaper. He published five volumes of poetry, the last in his 
thirtieth year. 

ARIAKE KAMBARA (1876-1952) 

Published four books of poems, the last at the age of thirty-two, and 
thereafter occupied himself in revising them. His first name is sometimes 
read as Yumei. 


Born in Kyushu, in which dialect he later wrote many poems. Besides 
his work in the modern style he wrote tanka, folk-poems and nursery 



ROFU Mm (b. 1889) 

Studied at both Waseda and Kci5 universities (Tokyo). Edited several 
magazines successively. Later entered a Trappist monastery in Hokkaido 


His real name was Masao Ota. A graduate of the Medical Department 
of Tokyo University, he took his M.D. with a study of leprosy (for 
which he was later awarded the Ug\on d'honneur). Besides two Kabuki 
plays, he published two books of poetry. 

K6TAR5 TAKAMURA (1883-1956) 

Eldest son of the famous sculptor, K5un Takamura. After graduating 
from Tokyo Art Academy, he spent three years abroad, in America, 
England and France. 

BocH5 YAMAMURA (1884-1924) 

Started as an uncertificated school-teacher. He studied English under a 
missionary and then graduated from the Holy Trinity Theological 
College in Tokyo. "Working as a priest, he suffered from tuberculosis 
and poverty. A quasi-surrealist to begin with, he finally turned into a 
'nature poet*. 


An important theorist (The Poetic Principle, 1928) as well as practitioner. 
Of his essays in Nietzschean aphorism, Fictitious Justice (1929) was 
particularly popular. 

SAISEI MuR5 (b. 18 

Completely self-educated after junior high school. Together with his 
friend Hagiwara, he published a poetry magazine Feeling. He has also 
written several realistic novels. 


HARUO SATO (b. 1892) 

Left the Department of Literature of Kei5 University without finishing 
the course. He began his career as a novelist, and has published nearly 
seventy books of criticism, translations (including Chinese women poets) 
and fiction. The definitive Collected Poems came out in 1952. 

KENJI MIYAZAWA (1896-1933) 

Born in Northern Japan, he was a devout Buddhist, an agriculturalist and 
a chemist. The greater part of his numerous poems and fairy tales was 
published posthumously. 


After leaving secondary school he worked as a journalist on a local 
newspaper. In 1921 he passed six months in a Buddhist monastery. He 
then declared himself a Dadaist and began to write poems. His Collected 
Poems came out in 1952. 


While studying German literature at Tokyo University he joined the 
'New People's Association', a Marxist organization, and in 1928 he 
helped to found the 'Jap 231 Federation of Proletarian Artists'. He was 
imprisoned several times. Since 1930 he has been more active as a 
novelist, critic and politician (from 1947 to 1950 he sat in the House of 
Councillors as a Communist member), but he remains the best of the 
'socialist* poets. Collected Poems was published in 1931. 

T5SABUR5 ONO (b. 1903) 

A native of Osaka, he attended the T5y5 University in Tokyo for a 
while. While young he set up as an anarchist but chiefly concerned 
himself with literary theory. No longer an anarchist, he remains a firm 
opponent of traditional poetic forms and subjects. 


FUYUE ANZAI (b. 1898) 

Lived in Dairen, Manchuria, from 1919 till 1934; founded, with Fuyu- 
hiko Kitagawa, the poetry magazine A (for Asia). Has published six 
books of poems and one of essays. He now works in Osaka Municipal 
Office and also teaches. 


Went to Manchuria as a boy often. He has been actively associated with 
a number of magazines. He once wrote, 'I started with Dadaistic poems, 
followed with Surrealistic, and have finally reached Neo-realism. I may 
seem changeable, but I am sure I have been consistent in my will to get, 
through poetry, at the innermost human spirit in its social aspect/ 

IKU TAZENAKA (b. 1904) 

A native of Kobe, he graduated from the English Department of Kansei 
Gakuin University. In 1924 he started a magazine called The Compass 
for the Sea-port Poets' Club. Has travelled a good deal in Europe, and 
knew Cocteau, Man Ray, etc., in France. 

JUN YAMAMURA (b. 1898) 

Born in Tokyo and educated at a commercial school in Osaka. He 
collaborated with Iku Takenaka in The Compass. Has published five 
books of poetry. 


Born in Osaka. His early ambition was to be a soldier and he entered 
the Military Academy; later he changed his mind and enrolled in the 
French Department of Tokyo University. He started his poetic career 
under the influence of Sakutaro Hagiwara and Saisei Muro: *it was these 
two poets . . . who rejected the marshalling of flowery words . . , and 
spoke about daily matters from the very bottom of their unaffected, 


urgent, feeling hearts'. One of the founders of the magazine Four Seasons, 
which represents the main current in the lyrical tradition of modern 
Japanese poetry. 


After graduating in economics at Keio University, he studied English 
literature at Oxford; his first book of poems was published in London, 
Spectrum (1925). He has written a number of books on European litera- 
ture and translated Eliot's The Waste Land into Japanese. At present he is 
Professor of English literature at Keio University. 


He went to China at the age of eighteen and graduated from Lingnan 
University in Canton, returning to Japan in 1939. The Hundredth Class 
(1928) attracted attention: it was all about frogs, whom the poet held 
to be 'great admirers of Nature', 'the ditch-smelling proletariat*, 
'cheerful anarchists* and 'the living heaven*. 


A native of Tokyo, he studied at the University of Foreign Studies 
there. He is supposed to represent the Intellectual school; has translated 
French authors, including Vale"ry (in chronological order). 

SUMAKO FUKAO (b. 1893) 

The only woman poet in this anthology; and the only one (outside the 
traditionalists) to establish herself as a major figure. At nineteen she 
married an undergraduate poet with whom she studied Japanese classics, 
Baudelaire and Browning, Nietzsche and Schopenhauer, and Russian 
literature . . / On her husband's death eight years later she compiled a 
volume of his poems, which she followed in quick succession with 
several of her own. Collected Poems came out in 1952. 



He studied for some time at the Higher Mercantile Marine School, then 
changed to the Japanese Literature Department of Tokyo University. 
Was one of the editors of Four Seasons. He lives in Toyohashi and 
lectures at Aichi University. 

FUYUJI TANAKA (b. 1894) 

Born in Northern Japan, he worked in a bank for thirty-six years until 
his retirement in 1949. Has published about eleven books of verse. 

SHIZUO Ixo (1906-1953) 

Born in Kyushu, he studied Japanese literature at Kyoto (Imperial) 
University. Published four collections of poetry. 


He read Oriental history at Tokyo University, His first book was a 
translation of Novalis, Blue Flowers. He is now a teacher and lives in 


An architect by profession, he began his poetic career as a disciple of 
Saisei Muro and was connected with the Four Seasons group.